Hydraulic jacks are sturdy and formidable enough to lift your ride. Heck, this small, close to invulnerable tool can even suspend your humble abode with just a couple cranks-‘n-pumps. But like all things, these tough tools are still prone to damages no matter how impregnable these things are. As said a while ago, it is “close” to being invulnerable. Hence, it still has its weak points, especially if your jack has been serving you for more than a decade or so.So, to help you get things done, here are some common damages that most likely will encounter in most hydraulic jacks, along with some quick fixes for rebuilding it.
The damage: Ram won’t lift
The diagnosis: There’s not enough oil in the reservoir. This is one of the common things we experienced when having a problem with our service jack. Because of this, air accumulates through the jack, preventing the ram to lift up.
Repair it by: Check the hydraulic fluid if it is still leveled. First to do is fill it up the jack’s reservoir with hydraulic oil. If it needs to be drained up for replacement, then you may do so. Never EVER use different types of oil such as brake fluid or motor oil, as it can pretty much damage the interior components of your jack. For one, these tools require a specific level of viscosity to be able for the jack to function properly. Another thing is that brake fluids and motor oils contain certain chemicals and high acidity level that could tear up, swell or degrade the quality of the seals.
After which, turn the jack’s RELEASE position and pump it a few times to purge the accumulated air out. Refill the reservoir until it’s full, then place the seal cap back. Wipe off excess oil then test it. For detailed instructions on how to change hydraulic oil for both floor and bottle jacks, please refer to this video.
The damage: Oil Leak
The diagnosis: Damages ranging from dislodged or worn out O-rings and seals – internally and/or externally. This is due to overuse, utilizing motor oil and/or brake fluid as a substitute or simply needs to be replaced already.
Repair it by: If you aren’t noticing any signs of leakage, then it is probably a damaged seal from the inside. With that, it looks like you’ll be needing a lot of time (and a set of tools) to repair this. You may not be noticing this, so it is certain that the leaks are inside. What you need to do is to disassemble the jack into parts in order to replace the O-rings, ram, nut, neoprene and other seals, as well as with the fasteners and other seals. This is quite a handful, considering the built of the jack, but it is still achievable. If you need some assistance coming from a jack’s expert as to how are you going to strategize the dismantling of the lift. You will also need the help of some heavy duty tools for disassembly and re-assembly such as a vise, shop press, screwdrivers and pliers to name a few.
Next thing to do is to examine the seals and components of the jack if it has scratches, tears, cuts and worn out surfaces. Replace these seals with a new set.
The damage: Overload valve was accidentally turned
The diagnosis: This is a common problem especially for newbies getting confused as to where the oil filler port is, despite the warning that says “Do Not Open”.
Repair it by: If this happens, then it is best to refer to your user manual or better yet, this is the right time to seek help from hydraulic jack manufacturer/experts.
Just to reiterate, the purpose of the overload/safety valve is when in the event that your jack reaches its PSI limit, the hydraulic jack will stop from lifting. Once you’ve turned this regardless of the direction, it will promptly change the tension of the spring connected to the jack, causing it to alter the pressure’s threshold. As a result, there will be a change in the feel and functionality of the hydraulic lift.
Hydraulic jacks are just some of the tools that are generally considered low-maintenance. It can be as tough as an old tree if used and kept properly. However, it can also be a weak and useless junk if constant disregard for utter care is practiced, which may result to painstaking fixes and unexpected repair expenses.